Hrapoćuša – the cake of Brač

Hrapoćuša – the cake of Brač

Ingredients for Hrapoćuša - The cake of Brač, Croatia

It comes as no surprise that the stone on the island of Brač shares the name as this very unique cake. Hrapoćuša (say huh-rap-choose-sa) can be seen all around the village of Dol – all over the landscape, its stairs, drywalls and most of its buildings.

As for the cake, its original maker – whoever that may have been – designed its top to resemble hrapoćuša stone in its natural, weathered state.

Hrapoćuša recipe card by Zrinka Kukuljica Merčep

Had it not been for the illustrated recipe cards I was sent from my fellow foodie over in Vukovar, Croatia, it may have been a while before I got the chance to taste this cake myself. And what makes it extra special is the cake is listed by Croatia’s Ministry of Culture as protected intangible heritage.

Perhaps it’s also due to it being known as Brač’s ‘sweet aphrodisiac.’

Hrapoćuša - The cake of Brač, Croatia

Now, allow me to tell you what’s involved with this cake that so happens to weigh 2½ kg (5½ pounds) and contain 14 eggs. Well, this particular recipe does, anyway.

Basically what we have is two very distinct layers. The bottom is a dense sponge made up of all the egg yolks, some of the whites, flour, walnuts and a bunch of other things.

The top layer is walnuts, sugar and the majority of the egg whites – all cooked in a pan until its similar to nougat – then slapped onto the pre-cooked base. It’s all cooked a little more at a lower temperature until they both fuse together and brown up just like the stone that’s endemic to the village of Dol, on Brač island.

Hrapoćuša - The cake of Brač, Croatia

The addition of fresh figs is my contribution, as is the vanilla and lemon zest in the topping, but the rest lies close to what you’d expect to see in Brač.

It freezes and defrosts well, just in case there aren’t enough hungry mouths to sweeten up. And another thing – the cake can be left at room temperature for almost a week without affecting its taste or composition. There’s so much packed in there that it takes a while to deteriorate.

Hrapoćuša - The cake of Brač, Croatia

 

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Hrapoćuša - the cake of Brač
Coming from Croatia's island of Brač, this dense hrapoćuša cake is loaded with sticky walnuts and hints of lemon.
Hrapoćuša - The cake of Brač, Croatia
Course Dessert
Cuisine Croatian
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Cake batter
Topping
Course Dessert
Cuisine Croatian
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Cake batter
Topping
Hrapoćuša - The cake of Brač, Croatia
Instructions
Cake batter
  1. Line the base of a 23 cm springform tin with baking paper, then lightly grease it all with a little oil.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  3. Whisk the 14 egg yolks, 5 egg whites, vanilla, lemon zest and sugar for about 1 minute by hand until foamy but not firm. Whisk in the flour, baking powder and ground walnuts, then pour the batter into the prepared tin.
  4. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until just cooked through.
  5. While the batter is cooking prepare the topping.
Topping
  1. Put the egg whites, sugar and walnuts into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir the mixture constantly so it doesn't catch and burn, for about 15 minutes until it's thick, sticky and golden brown.
  2. Pour in the lemon juice and keep stirring for a further 6-7 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  3. When the bottom layer of the cake is cooked, remove it from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 150°C.
  4. Scoop the still-hot walnut mixture over the cake that just came out of the oven, spreading it evenly and gently pressing the walnuts down.
  5. Put the tin back into the oven and bake for a further 30 minutes until the top is light brown. Allow the cake to cool completely in the tin before removing and slicing.
Recipe Notes

The cake freezes and defrosts perfectly. Simply wrap it in foil whole, half or quarters.

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